A study published in the February issue of the UK-based Journal of Clinical Nursing, shows that Acupressure can significantly reduce agitated behaviour in older patients// with dementia.
Researchers at the National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan found that providing 15-minute treatment sessions twice a day for five days a week yielded considerable benefits, including reductions in verbal and physical attacks and wandering.
But once the four-week treatment period ended, agitation levels started to rise again, suggesting that acupressure needs to be provided on an ongoing basis.
20 patients were studied over six weeks, including one week before the treatment started and one week after it finished. All lived in dementia special care units at a long-term care facility.
70 per cent of the patients suffered from severe behavioural disturbances, with a further five per cent suffering from extremely severe impairment. The remaining 25 per cent were classed as medium.
An average pre-treatment score of just over 79 was recorded on a specialist scale developed to measure agitation levels. After four weeks' treatment this had fallen to just under 60.
Pre-treatment agitation was highest in the 65-59 and 80 plus age groups (82 and 97 respectively) and in males (83).
"Agitated behaviour in people with dementia is a major concern for caregivers" says co-author Professor Li-Chan Lin from the Institute of Clinical Nursing at National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan. "It can endanger patients and others, make it necessary for them to be moved from familiar surroundings and demoralise and psychologically distress caregivers.
"People are living longer and, as a result, we face increased numbers of people with dementia. It is very important that we find interventions that enable us to provide more effective care for them, both in their own home and in long-term care facilities."
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